Skies might very well be partly cloudy on Saturday in Dekalb, Illinois, but that will not stop the Eagles of Eastern Michigan University from soaring into Huskie Stadium for a Mid-American Conference (MAC) West battle with Northern Illinois University.
It’s certainly not easy to win in the MAC, but both teams enter week 8 of college football on a tear as EMU picked up a 28-14 win over Kent State, with NIU defeating Ohio, 23-13, who arguably was the best team in the conference at the time.
As the all-time series between the two squads sits at 35-16 in favor of the Huskies, since 1997 the Eagles have only marched into Huskie Stadium three times and walked away successfully.
Here is your full game preview, as well as how to watch and what to watch for:
How to watch
When: Saturday, Oct. 21
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
EMU vs. NIU odds
Spread: NIU -11.5
Over/Under: 44.5 points
Moneyline: NIU -480
ESPN Analytics: NIU 76.9% chance to win
Keys to success, what to watch
EMU: For the Eagles this week, they have to be able to stop NIU’s top playmakers in quarterback Rocky Lombardi and running back Antario Brown. Lombardi ranks fourth in the MAC in total passing yards with 1,187 so far while accounting for six passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Brown ranks second in the MAC in total rushing yards as he’s accounted for 650 yards on 105 carries and five rushing touchdowns. EMU is fresh off of a great defensive showing as they forced Kent State to turn the ball over three times, something Kent State ranked first in the nation coming into the matchup against EMU. Not to mention, EMU holds two of the top five leading tacklers in the MAC with the linebacker duo of Joe Sparacio (81 tackles) and Chase Kline (62 tackles). If the Eagles can continue that dominance on defense and force the Huskies’ offense into some mistakes, they can very well pick up their third consecutive win of the season.
NIU: The Huskies are going to have to get it done defensively as well if they want to keep the hot streak going and put the Eagles to rest. EMU head coach Chris Creighton described this Huskies defense as “suffocating,” in a press conference on Monday held by EMU Athletics, and he wasn’t wrong as NIU ranks 28th in the country in total defense. Against an EMU offense that ranks 131st in the country with in-and-out struggles all year, especially in the passing attack as NIU ranks sixth in the country against the pass, if the Huskies play the defensive game that they are accustomed to, they could crush EMU’s hopes of winning a MAC title.